Simplify setting up co-housing communities say housing experts

It should be made easier for groups to set up their own co-housing communities, says a new report which will be launched in the House of Commons today (Wednesday, 22 June).

According to the report, written by academic housing researchers working with the UK Cohousing Network, co-housing could be much more widely adopted if it were easier for groups to get planning, financial and development support.

The report recommends that local government should make more land available cheaply, especially in urban areas, to groups who want to set up co-housing communities.

Dr Melissa Fernández Arrigoitia, an author of the report and researcher from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) said:

“There are fantastic social, political, ecological benefits that make co-housing a real alternative to conventional housing for some people. While each initiative will be unique, we should find ways to make it simpler for newly formed groups to get their plans off the ground without having to reinvent the wheel each time.”

The study claims that social and private developers should think inventively about how to integrate co-housing into mainstream housing developments, as happens in some other countries. According to the report, there are 19 established co-housing communities in the UK in comparison to over 600 in Germany.

Kath Scanlon, an author of the report and LSE researcher, said:

“Co-housing can be attractive to people as they get older and need to downsize. These communities provide a ready-made social network and could help promote ‘healthy ageing’. In countries with a more established co-housing movement, these communities are also seen as great places to raise children.”

The report draws on two years of seminars and site visits across the country. Researchers met residents of cohousing communities as well as activists, practitioners and academics from continental Europe, Australia and the USA. LSE collaborated with the universities of Newcastle, Leeds, Lancaster, Nottingham and Sheffield, and the UK Co-housing Network, to organise the project.